The High Court of England and Wales has launched the recruitment round for the 2022/23 intake of the Judicial Assistants (JA) scheme.
The role of JA offers those in the early years of their professional practice a ringside view of the trial process and first instance decision-making from the perspective of the judge, for the most complex, high value and often high-profile cases.
Aimed at qualified barristers and solicitors in the early stages of their legal career, applications are invited from those able to demonstrate an outstanding intellectual ability, excellent organisational skills and the ability to manage large and complicated workloads, as well as a high level of professional integrity.
A full job description and application form (attached) can be found below. The closing date for applications – which should be emailed to HighCourtJAScheme@judiciary.uk – is 5pm on Monday 16 May 2022.
Candidates will be asked to express their jurisdictional preference(s), courts in which they would wish to be placed, and as to the duration and timing of their placement.
JA Job Advert
Judicial assistants (JAs) in the High Court of England and Wales are assigned to judges of the High Court across the three Divisions. They assist the judges(s) to whom they are allocated, for example by carrying out research, summarising documents and providing general support for the judge(s) in the organisation of their work and hearings. The application process is for placements lasting between two and four legal terms during the 2022/2023 legal year. Interviews will be held in-person during the week beginning 20 June 2022.
Aimed at recently qualified barristers and solicitors who are in the early stages of their legal career, applications will be invited from those who have graduated with at least a 2:1 degree and will be able to demonstrate an outstanding intellectual ability, organisational skills, practical experience, and the ability to manage large and complicated workloads, as well as a high level of professional integrity. Applications will also be welcome from candidates with comparable early years’ experience, for example in academia.
Candidates will be asked to express their preference(s) in terms of the jurisdiction and courts in which they would wish to be placed, and as to the duration and timing of their placement.
Number of positions
This recruitment is for the equivalent of 13 full-time appointments for the 2022/2023 legal year. The exact number of appointments will depend on the preferences of the candidates for a placement lasting two or four terms (for example, if all successful candidates request a placement of two terms, there will be capacity for around 26 individual appointments during the course of the year).
Length and periods of placement
Candidates will be asked to express a preference for a placement of two or four terms. The two-term appointments will correspond to the legal terms as below:
- Monday 3 October 2022 to Wednesday 5 April 2023; or
- Tuesday 18 April 2023 to Monday 31 July 2023.
The four-term appointments will be for the period covering the full legal year:
- Monday 3 October 2022 to Monday 31 July 2023.
Successful candidates will be expected to make themselves available for work during the relevant legal vacations (though not public holidays).
Candidates will also be asked if they have any preference for the Court or Division to which they will be assigned, namely:
- Chancery Division (Business and Property Courts)
- Family Division (including the Court of Protection)
- Queen’s Bench Division:
- Commercial Court (Business and Property Courts)
- Technology and Construction Court (Business and Property Courts)
- Administrative Court
- QB Civil
- No preference applicants will be free to select as many or as few of these specialisations as they wish. Candidates will be informed of the Court to which they have been assigned at the point at which they receive the offer. While every effort will be made to assign successful candidates to their Court or Division of choice, there may be occasions on which a degree of flexibility will be required, and judicial assistants will be asked to lend support to a judge in another part of the High Court. Applicants are also advised to apply for a specific Division in which they have experience and can add value.
Nature of the work
Depending on the preferences expressed by applicants, it is intended that there will be JAs assigned to Judges across the three Divisions of the High Court. JAs will be placed with a judge or judges working in their chosen specialisation or one of their chosen specialisations. JAs will assist the judge(s) to whom they are allocated by carrying out research, marking up and summarising case documents and transcripts, summarising submissions and discussing cases and hearings and providing general support for the judge(s) in the organisation of their work and hearings. The role of judicial assistant offers those in the early years of their professional practice a close view of the trial process and first instance decision-making from the perspective of the judge, for the most complex, high value and often high profile civil and family cases. The majority of the work will be based in London, but JAs may have the opportunity to accompany the judge on circuit.
Typically, the candidate will have graduated with an excellent degree (2:1 or above) and have practical experience in legal research and writing, and familiarity with civil procedure (for example, it is expected that candidates will be familiar with and capable of dealing with issues arising out of CPR). Experience gained in the early years of practice – from either arm of the legal profession – is also desirable, though candidates with comparable early years’ experience (for example in academia) are also eligible to apply. Candidates should understand that a judicial assistant works full-time. It is not possible to conduct professional practice or to devote significant time to external study while working as a judicial assistant.
Skills and qualifications
Excellent intellectual and legal ability is essential. The role will involve discussions with High Court judges on difficult points of law and procedure. Successful candidates will also have demonstrated an ability to formulate detailed legal arguments and opinions based on research and excellent written and oral communication skills. The role of judicial assistant will also require candidates to manage involvement in multiple cases, some of them very large and involving extensive evidence. JAs will also be expected to provide assistance to their assigned judge(s) to tight deadlines. Successful candidates will therefore have demonstrated a capacity to work effectively under pressure of time. IT skills, including in research, are also necessary criteria.
The salary offered to candidates who sign ‘terms of placement’ agreements with HMCTS is the pro rata equivalent of an annual salary of £30,389, payable monthly in arrears. Successful candidates in private practice or those who are unemployed will be paid a monthly fee, reflecting the rate paid to ‘terms of placement’ candidates. A secondment fee equivalent to the rate paid to ‘terms of placement’ candidates will be paid to the employer of successful candidates who are already in employment.
As a vital public service, the court system has used a variety of approaches to ensure that work can continue as effectively as possible during the pandemic. Now that restrictions have been eased, you should expect to work in-person for the duration of your post. However, this is subject to change at short notice and you may be asked to work remotely and remain flexible should Government guidance change.
Successful applicants who pass the interview stage will be required to undergo the CTC Security Clearance process in order to formally become a Judicial Assistant. Any offer of appointment will be subject to the candidate obtaining CTC clearance, which is processed by an independent government body. Should a candidate not pass their clearance by meeting this security threshold, their place on the programme may be offered to a reserve candidate or given the option of a deferral to the next year whilst the requirements are met. Applicants are encouraged to apply only if they are able to meet the required security clearance threshold. For more information on CTC clearance, including the residency requirements in order to obtain this level of clearance, and for all information on appeals, please consult the gov.uk website. We reserve the right to revoke an offer of a place on the programme at any time throughout the clearance process.
Application and Interview
Candidates will be asked to demonstrate in no more than 250 words how they have shown that they can ‘Make Effective Decisions’. For information on Civil Service Behaviours, please see page 5: Success Profiles – Civil Service Behaviours (publishing.service.gov.uk) (PDF, opens in a new tab). Successful applicants who attend an interview will also be asked strength-based questions. For more information on this, please see here: Success Profiles – Civil Service Strengths Dictionary (publishing.service.gov.uk) (PDF, opens in a new tab).
The Judicial Office embraces diversity and promotes equal opportunities and are committed to providing everyone with the opportunity to demonstrate their skills, talent and abilities, by making adjustments throughout all elements of the recruitment process and in the workplace. We are able to offer an interview to disabled candidates who meet the minimum selection criteria.
You will be able to request reasonable adjustments to the recruitment process within the application form. If you need additional help completing the application form, please contact: HighCourtJAScheme@judiciary.uk
We encourage applications from people from all backgrounds and aim to have a workforce that represents the wider society that we serve.